By Jessie Balmert, The (Newark, Ohio) Advocate
COLUMBUS — An Ohio woman whose baby would have been stillborn was forced to travel 300 miles to Chicago because no Ohio abortion clinic would do the procedure, she said.
Sheva Guy, 23, a doctoral student from Cincinnati, said her daughter was diagnosed with a fatal spinal abnormality when she went to a hospital for her second-trimester ultrasound at about 22 weeks. She and her husband were expecting to find out the gender of their child.
“I wanted a girl. He wanted a boy, so it was like, ‘Who was going to be right?'” Guy said.
But the technician was quiet. The baby was too small. Something was wrong.
A second test at a second hospital confirmed that the baby’s head was too large, the rest of the body was too small and a severe spinal abnormality meant the baby would never live.
“I just completely broke down. I mean, I was so vulnerable,” Guy said. “Pantsless on the table, I was finding out this news. I was just sobbing. Both my contacts fell out. I couldn’t see anything.”
Guy shared her story at a Tuesday news conference hosted by ProgressOhio, a liberal-leaning public policy group, and NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. Both groups oppose tightening restrictions on abortions.
Guy said she had two options: deliver a stillborn daughter or have an abortion. The first was more than she could bear.
But because she was 22 weeks pregnant, Cincinnati’s Planned Parenthood clinic wouldn’t perform the procedure.
Dayton’s Women’s Med Center, which performs abortions until 22½ weeks, could not find an appointment in time, Guy said. So, they referred Guy to Chicago, where she had an abortion just days later.
Her husband and husband’s parents drove with her on the trip, which cost about $3,000, including the abortion, Guy said. It wasn’t until they were headed back to Cincinnati that it hit her.
“I had to leave my baby in Chicago,” she said.
GOP lawmakers in Ohio want to prevent abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, which is about 22 weeks into the pregnancy. These types of abortions are already rare: Only 133 abortions were performed in Ohio past 21 weeks last year, according to Ohio Department of Health records.
Since 2013, the number of abortion clinics in Ohio also has dropped from 14 to nine in part because of restrictions passed by the Republican-dominatedOhio Legislature, signed by Gov. John Kasich and enforced by his administration.
The additional restriction could save a handful of babies every year, said state Sen. Peggy Lehner, a Republican from the Columbus suburb of Kettering.
Many neonatologists agree than fetuses can feel pain at 22 weeks, Lehner said.
Guy should have been able to have an abortion under Ohio law, which now allows abortion up to 24 weeks, said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life.
“We don’t believe abortion is ever a solution except to save the life of the mother,” Gonidakis said. But under current Ohio law, abortion clinics could have performed the procedure.
But some doctors are afraid of getting too close to the 24-week ban for fear of reprisal, said Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.
In those tough situations, Lehner said she would advocate for doctors making the decision.
“These are the kind of tough issues best left to an ethics boards of doctors,” she said.